Da Matta Wins in Portland

Formula One refugee Cristiano da Matta rediscovered the kind of form that propelled him to the 2002 Champ Car title with a superb drive to victory at Portland on Sunday

Da Matta Wins in Portland

The Brazilian used an inventive pit strategy to vault to the front of the pack after starting from a midfield grid position. Because he had been unable to make much progress in the early stages, da Matta pitted unusually early on lap 13 so he could extricate himself from traffic and run in clean air.

It paid off handsomely, resulting in da Matta's first win since returning to Champ Cars this season and the first ever for the third-year PKV team.

"This is not like a normal win," said da Matta. "Being so far away from the winner's circle for so long, and also with a new team where we haven't been working together for very long, feels much better than a normal win."

Assuming that da Matta had just been out of sequence, and therefore not a true contender for the win, the runner-up finishers were somewhat surprised to find him go all the way to Victory Lane.

Defending race winner Sebastien Bourdais, who set up a classic overtaking maneuver of Paul Tracy under braking into the first turn when Tracy was held up by a backmarker on lap 73 of the 105-lap event, thought he had passed for the lead.

Instead the Frenchman had to content himself with second place after chasing da Matta in the closing stages to no avail.

Paul Tracy finished third ahead of Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Mario Dominguez and RuSPORT's AJ Allmendinger.

Britain's Justin Wilson started from pole and built a commanding lead over the first 43 laps, only for an uncharacteristic Ford-Cosworth engine related problem to cruelly spoil his hopes of a maiden Champ Car win.

Result of G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland:

CLASSIFIED: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Cristiano PKV 1h51:51.404 2. Sebastien Bourdais Newman Haas + 10.128 3. Paul Tracy Forsythe Championship + 17.570 4. Mario Dominguez Forsythe Championship + 18.640 5. A.J. Allmendinger RuSPORT + 26.708 6. Jimmy Vasser PKV + 33.477 7. Andrew Ranger Mi-Jack Conquest + 40.345 8. Ronnie Bremer  HVM, Inc. + 1 Lap 9. Bjorn Wirdheim HVM, Inc. + 1 Lap 10. Timo Glock Rocketsports + 1 Lap 11. Michael Valiante Dale Coyne + 1 Lap 12. Nelson Philippe Mi-Jack Conquest + 1 Lap 13. Ricardo Sperafico Dale Coyne + 1 Lap 14. Marcus Marshall Team Australia + 2 Laps 15. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rocketsports + 2 Laps NOT CLASSIFIED/RETIREMENTS: Driver Team On Lap Oriol Servia Newman Haas Racing 79 Justin Wilson RuSPORT 45 Alex Tagliani Team Australia 8 Fastest Lap: Sebastien Bourdais, 59.923s, on lap 79 
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